“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
[Hebrew 12:5-6; Proverbs 3:11-12]
Jamie’s 40th birthday. I love You, Lord, and I love Your word. It feels like solid ground under my feet, a resting place for my soul. It helps me get my bearings and reminds me of what’s important.
I see a tall palm tree, bending and swaying in a heavy wind like a Florida gale or hurricane. It bobs and sways, its foliage shivering, glistening with rain.
This is a different picture than the Psalm 1 (or Jeremiah 17) tree. The picture there is one of lushness, fertility, bearing good fruit in due season, even in drought and heat. Here, the winds of adversity, change and challenge are blowing. But because the tree is rooted and grounded, it’s not toppled or uprooted or damaged in any way. Even so, those who walk in My ways and meditate on My word stay stable, rooted, grounded when the wind blows hard or the heat’s up.
Like you read in James this morning, when your soul is prepared, you can count the hard, challenging times as joy. Because I use the wind and the hot sun to deepen your life message, the more you endure and walk through hard times and challenges, the deeper that message. The wind and rain and storms won’t hurt you; they put steel in your soul, wrapped in peace.
No pain, no gain. No sweat, no get. The rich lessons of self-discipline, self-sacrifice and self-denial aren’t learned on the beach on sunny days.
Consider the things your grandparents and parents gained from the Great Depression. They learned resourcefulness and creativity, love for neighbors, cooperation, community, compassion, faith. I refined their souls, purified and disciplined their minds, and steeled and prepared them for the crucible of war.
I’m not saying you have to go look for suffering, adversity or affliction. I’m saying that, when it comes (and come it will) be ready to embrace the gifts it brings. The trees that break or are uprooted by the wind are the ones that haven’t put their roots deep enough.
There are different qualities of discipline, from the internal (self-control, the various spiritual disciplines like meditation, prayer, study and service) to the external (rebuke, suffering, formal church disciple, the long arm of civil law, suffering, etc.). Attention to the internal disciplines often obviates the need for the external, but it never eliminates it completely. Those I love, I chasten and discipline.
When Adam fell, I cursed the creation. The curse was ultimately for his good, and for yours. In encounter with the effects of the curse (suffering, fatigue, frustration, futility, setbacks and reversals), you learn each time that your true life is found in Me, and not here under the sun. As you look to Me, you run with patience, endurance and faith.